Dozens of undocumented immigrants have been arrested across Northern California since Sunday, according to federal officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Removal Operations.
ICE deportation officers arrested 232 individuals for violating federal immigration laws in the San Francisco area of responsibility, extending from the Bakersfield area north to the Oregon border, during a four-day targeted operation that ended Wednesday, according to a release Thursday.
Of those arrested, 180 were either convicted criminals, had been issued a final order of removal and failed to depart the United States, or had been previously removed from the U.S. and returned illegally, ICE said. A total of 115 had prior convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault.
ICE's statement about the four-day Northern California operation criticized sanctuary jurisdictions for what it sees as a hindrance to its objectives and a threat to public safety.
"Recent legislation has negatively impacted ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state by prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees," the ICE statement said. "ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons, where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community."
Earlier this week, ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan blasted Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf after she decided to alert the public ahead of the operation that began Sunday.
Homan said, Schaaf's warning "further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold."
Homan added: "What she did is no better than a gang lookout yelling 'police' when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood, except she did it to an entire community. This is beyond the pale."
Schaaf defended her decision to alert the public, saying, "I’m doing my job as the mayor of Oakland, a community which is one-third immigrant. Just as I am being criticized, I’m also being thanked – thanked for standing up for the residents of my city. Thanked for standing up for our most vulnerable residents that don’t have a voice – this is their city that believes in keeping families safe and keeping families together."
Some of the individuals arrested during ICE's operation will face federal criminal prosecutions for illegal entry and illegal re-entry after deportation, the agency said.
Others who have outstanding orders of deportation or who returned to the U.S. illegally after being deported are subject to immediate removal from the country. Still others in ICE custody will be granted a hearing in front of an immigration judge or are awaiting travel arrangements out of the country in the near future, ICE said.